Vikings get past Alaska Anchorage in three sets

Emily Boerger

Nov. 1, 2012

Box Score

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Outside hitter Marlayna Geary (Sr., Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) had a match-high 11 kills as nationally ranked Western Washington University defeated University of Alaska Anchorage, 25-16, 25-22, 25-23, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball match Thursday night at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

The Vikings, ranked No.17 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll, improved to 19-3 overall and stayed atop the GNAC standings at 12-2.

UAA fell to 14-7 overall, 9-4 in the GNAC. Breanne Sytnyk and Julia Mackey each had eight kills for the Seawolves.

The Vikings led by just one, 17-16, in the opening set before closing it out with eight consecutive points. Outside hitter Kelsey Moore (So., Bellevue/Newport) had two kills and a solo block in the charge.

WWU never trailed in the second set, but never led by more than five and had to pull away late after leading only 19-18.

In the final frame, the Vikings held an 18-11 advantage, but the Seawolves battled back, eventually using a run of four straight points to tie the set at 22-22, and again at 23-23.

But WWU closed out the match, getting the final two points on a well-timed dump by setter Laurie Yearout (Sr., Spokane/Lewis & Clark) and a quick attack by middle blocker Emily Boerger (Jr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck), who finished with nine kills.

Middle blocker Kayla Erickson (So., Gig Harbor/Peninsula) had five blocks for WWU and libero Samantha Hutchinson (So., University Place/Curtis) had 19 digs, both match-highs.

WWU has won 12 straight at home, including all seven this season, and is 25-1 since late in 2009 season.

WWU has a winning percentage of .903 (112-12) at home after going to a SportCourt surface in 2000 and is 227-78 overall (74.4 percent) overall at Carver Gym.

The Vikings entertain Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday (7 p.m.), Nov. 3, in a GNAC counter.

WWU earns sweep at home


BELLINGHAM - As a future volleyball coach, senior leader Laurie Yearout displayed the right instinct to know when to make an unusual move for a setter in crunch time.

In fact, she was having so much fun setting for five teammates in one of Western Washington University's best-balanced efforts, she decided to get in on the action near the end of the GNAC-leading Vikings' 25-16, 25-22, 25-23 victory over Alaska-Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Carver Gym.

Yearout's soft flip kill off an opponent's hit, following a rally sparked by team kill leader Marlayna Geary, put the Vikings (19-3, 12-2 GNAC) up 24-23 in the final set after they had squandered an 18-11 lead to the Seawolves (14-7, 9-4), who came in tied for second in the conference.

Emily Boerger's ensuing kill - off Yearout's 38th assist - ended an entertaining match and kept the nationally 17th-ranked Vikings in the GNAC lead and in the running to host an NCAA sub-regional, particularly if they can win their final four regular-season matches.

"I figured I would risk it (the flip kill) and see if it would cause a little chaos," said Yearout, who is 102 assists short of becoming only the fourth Viking to log 3,000 career assists. She also plagued the Seawolves with 11 digs, showing outstanding alertness for a setter.

"When we recruited Laurie, part of it was for the intangibles she has as a setter," said WWU coach Diane Flick, whose team won its 12th home match in a row over two seasons. "She's going to be a coach, and she's already like a coach on the court."

Yearout, who holds a bachelor's degree in English, is the daughter of football and volleyball coaches and is a graduate student working toward earning her teaching certification.

While sophomore defensive specialist Samantha Hutchinson came up with 19 digs, Yearout got a kick out of seeing the five other regulars combine for 41 kills as the Vikings earned most of their points.

Geary, a senior who is No. 2 on Western's career list with 1,280 kills and ranks first in the conference and eighth nationally, had a match-high 11. She received plenty of support from Boerger (9), Kelsey Moore (8), Jennica McPherson (7) and Kayla Erickson (6) -- none of whom are seniors.

"We worked on balance all week in practice and we had them (Alaska-Anchorage) guessing a lot," said Yearout, who came in leading the GNAC with 873 assists and ranked No. 4 nationally in Division II. "It really paid off to have all of our hitters playing well."

Flick was excited about that, too: "Laurie did a good job of putting up sets for the full arsenal around her."

Geary moved within 99 kills of matching Western career leading Meghan Evoy, who last played in 2004.

Western's poise in the first two sets was gratifying for Flick and Yearout, but both acknowledged the third set was not nearly as smooth.

The first set was tied at 12 when Geary made one of the prettiest moves of the night. She made one of her 6 digs, then on the same sequence took a pass and powered a kill. Western never trailed in that set again and rattled off the final eight points.

The second set was also a clutch showcase for Geary, who scored Western's final two points on kills after the Seawolves rallied to within 23-21 and 24-22.

Geary is now No. 11 in career digs with 901 and is bidding to become only the third Viking to finish in the career top 10 in both kills and digs.

Hutchinson's 19 digs showed why the quick sophomore came in with the GNAC lead and the No. 6 national ranking.

Western, which dropped five spots in the national rankings after losing to Western Oregon last week, is rated No. 2 in the West behind BYU-Hawaii. Both could wind up hosting NCAA sub-regionals.

Yearout said the Vikings aren't even close to thinking about that yet, however.

"We just need to come every day ready to work hard at getting better in practice," she said, speaking exactly like the coach she is training to be.


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